Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez have a Track House in Talladega

by Bob Bocras
NASCAR FOX Sports writer

Ross Chastain Talladega left the Superspeedway in April excited after winning his second race of the season. I snatched a spot in NASCAR Cup Series Qualifiers, the first for Trackhouse Racing in its second season as a racing team.

Getting a car in the qualifying was a fitting goal for Trackhouse, which was founded and co-owned by former racer Justin Marks, who brought in world-famous musician Pitbull as an investor.

But as NASCAR is heading to TalladegaNot only is Chastain still alive in qualifying – Talladega is the middle race in round two – but Trackhouse also has Daniel Suarez Among the 12 drivers still in the race.

Ross Chastain in his accident with Eric Almerola on Sunday in Texas

Ross Chastain in his accident with Eric Almerola on Sunday in Texas

Ross Chastain had a late accident with Eric Almerola. Chastain explains the decision to prospect and potentially put himself in more traffic. He finished 13th and is still 18 points higher.

This feat might sound common to Hendrick Motorsports (four drivers still alive), Team Penske (three) and Joe Gibbs Racing (two). But Trackhouse spent its inaugural season with a few employees on the Richard Childress Racing team and became a fully functional racing team this year, having bought Marks Chip Ganassi Racing.

“My goal for next season is really, personally, just to get a shot to put one of our cars in the playoffs,” Marks said Sunday before the race at Texas Motor Speedway. “So being in round 12 with both – I think we’re kind of playing with the house money in our first year as a completely independent organisation.

“It’s just a testament to the readiness and process that we do all year long.”

Ross Chastain on his decisive approach

Ross Chastain on his decisive approach

Ross Chastain talks about his playoff style and whether he overhears the chatter that other drivers won’t let him win the championship.

In another “not only” fact, both Chastain and Suarez are above match cuts with Talladega and Charlotte Track is still in “Round 12”, NASCAR’s version of the quarter-finals.

The four drivers who did not win the round and who are lowest in points after Charlotte will be eliminated.

Chastain is currently second in the standings, 25 points above the cut, Suarez tied for sixth, 11 points above the cut.

“Looking back at some of the testing and pre-season stuff, there were glimpses of it, and then the early races, there were glimpses of it, but none of us were here before,” Chastain said when asked when they started this season. I realize this was a possibility. “None of us were in our current positions in the race-winning qualifiers.

“So, until we go and do it…I made the joke to Justin before, ‘Exactly how you planned it, right?’” “A lot of it is about planning, a lot of it is about putting some of us in our positions and it has worked.”

Most drivers view this round as a wild card due to the unpredictable nature of both Talladega (where big crashes and dependence on the drafting partner play big roles in where the driver ends) and Charlotte (a road course that most drivers take part in) staying on the first lap, and may A single accident late in the race leads to a devastating finish.)

Daniel Suarez on his Sunday performance in Texas

Daniel Suarez said Texans have had a struggle, but gaining 13 points on the stage and finishing 12th puts him four points higher than the current playoffs.

But look at where the Trackhouse drivers have won this year: Chastain on the Circuit of the Americas road track and then Talladega, Suarez on the Sonoma Road track. Both drivers had solid performances on the road courses and super speed formulation.

“The way we’ve been working, I’m not surprised,” Suarez said. “With this, in the first year as a kitty-house, having two cars at this level is definitely very good.

“But we haven’t hit the target yet. We have to keep pushing and see where this leads us.”

Daniel Suarez talks about expectations to make the NASCAR Playoffs

Daniel Suarez talks about expectations to make the NASCAR Playoffs

Daniel Suarez spoke in August about feeling the need to win for this year’s NASCAR playoffs.

Target? Could they seriously have a driver in the fourth championship and be a player in the final in Phoenix?

“Someone has to win it, so why not?” Suarez said. “At the beginning of the year, Justin Marks said at least something on my mind, really [stuck]He said: Why not from us? why not?’

“The only thing we don’t have is the experience and numbers that many other teams have. We have the people, we have the sponsors, we have the factory support. Why not? We didn’t get to that point by luck. We have to keep doing our job and see where that takes us” .

Alex Bowman was among those who raced against the Marks and was also a teammate of his Chip Ganassi Racing team, both starting in the #42 Xfinity car five years ago. He said he was not surprised to see Marks’ team excel.

“That’s great because he’s got super ability and super intelligence,” Bowman said. “The little I’ve been around, doesn’t surprise me with the success they’ve had.

“Obviously it happened very quickly, but I think we are in a sporting time where things like this can happen with a brand new race car. He has good race car drivers and good people working on it, and it’s great to see their success.”

Trackhouse has retained several Ganassi competition leaders, including former Cup Championship crew chief Darian Grob and Tony Launders. This veteran presence helped ease the transition, as Chastain and his team largely remained untouched as they began working with the original Trackhouse group and Suarez.

Moving forward is not going to change that, nor is it going to put any kind of new, undue pressure on ourselves — just making sure we continue to stick to what got us here,” Marks said.

“It’s already proven to be a very volatile qualifier. It’s very difficult to predict what these next two rounds will bring. So we just have to make sure we just stick with our process and see where the chips fall.”

Chastain said he hasn’t changed his style. And he succeeded. He is fifth in points earned in playoff races (135), sixth in average finish in playoff races (11.5) and fourth in stage points earned in qualifying (33).

“Preparation is the same for me: my week hasn’t changed in relation to my schedule and how I build my week,” he said. “Definitely some conservative driving on my part on the track and some conservative action from our crew to conserve tires and keep the car spinning.

“So there’s a direct relationship between risk and reward to equip the car. And I think how fast you want to go or how risky you are willing to take to finish the race.”

For the first time in the playoffs, Chastain is trying to stay calm about everything.

“There is no … additional internal pressure,” he said. “The only idea is to finish and not mess around, not make mistakes, not make mental mistakes. I just keep my world small and move to the next corner, the next cycle, [and] If something happens, I’m not trying to make up for it.

“And that’s really difficult.”

So far, they have met the challenge. Chastain avoided getting into with the other drivers who marked his regular season. Suarez made the most of what could have been his worst days.

Chastain’s seasoned wall crew is still going strong and has the best average stopping time with four tires of the 2022 season.

“I think we’re comfortable,” said Marx. “I think we’re doing a pretty good job of blocking a lot of narration around us and just focusing on each other.

“This was really important for Trackhouse…to make sure all of our investments are within the walls of our store and just make sure we really feel like a team, working together and supporting each other. That gives us a lot of fairness as we go deeper into the playoffs.”

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What to watch

The “safe” way to race Talladega is to stay behind the main group and hope to avoid a major crash.

But there are at least 11 drivers who think they can use stage points. All drivers except for the play-off Joey Logano, who is 37 points above the cutoff line, probably wants stage points. That way, if they fall into a wreck, they still have something. But they will have to weigh the risk against the reward.

The only drivers who absolutely think they need stage points are Christopher Bell And the Alex Bowman, who sit 25 and 26 points behind the pieces. If they don’t get any progress points, they’re probably looking at situations to win… assuming most match drivers make it to the end.

So what will they do? That’s the big question and something to watch in Talladega as qualifying drivers try to put themselves in the best position to go to the Charlotte’s track on the road to take control of their own destinies.

think out loud

Ty Gibbs He was fined $75,000 for pit road antics at a trophy race at Texas Motor Speedway, as he slammed the door Ty Dillon under caution.

In the vicinity the crew members were working Chris Buchercar, as well as NASCAR officials. It was a stupid move.

NASCAR was in a bit of a bind at the time, as it seems the suspension might be appropriate in this case. But if she stops Gibbs, should she be suspended William Byron for spinning Denny Hamlin Under caution on the racetrack? Some would say yes, but it could also be argued that intentional contact is even more egregious on the pit road.

The suspension could also have upended the Xfinity Championship, which is where Gibbs has run most of his racing this year, before adding alternate cup duties for the injured. Kurt Busch. Arguably, a critical move suspension should be effective across all series and Gibbs should pay the price.

But would that have been justified had NASCAR suspended Gibbs for a few more Cup races while still maintaining his Xfinity eligibility?

Yes, it could have been. And that’s what NASCAR should have done. He was going to send a real message to Gibbs that if he was going to race in the Cup Series next year, as expected, he should stop the emotional rhetoric.

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they said that

I am grateful that no one was injured and I will learn from him.” – Ty Gibbs at the pit road door from Ty Dillon

Bob Pokras covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He’s spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @Popocrasand subscribe to Newsletter from FOX Sports NASCAR with Bob Pokras.

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